Indigenous participation in resource development: a paradigm shift

Indigenous participation in resource development: a paradigm shift

Indigenous Peoples as a demographic are amongst the poorest and most marginalized on the planet. Many have been displaced and exist in territories where extreme conditions make sustainable economic development challenging, with infrastructure, water and energy costlyand unstable. Often, traditional ways of life are no longer able to get them out of the poverty which they face. Government programs to a large degree have proven ineffective and can serve to perpetuate the inequality and marginalization that persists. As a result, many communities have looked elsewhere for solutions. While the old paradigm in resource development at best did little to close the gap in territorial inequality of these marginalized communities, new tools are emerging that are developed through community participation, rooted in collaboration and empowerment. Resource development today more than ever before presents opportunities for both sides to enrich each other’s lives and that of the global collective.
 
Resource development exists in some of the most remote parts of the globe, often alongside Indigenous Peoples. It brings with it billions of dollars in investment, jobs, business opportunities, programs and attention to often times forgot regions of the world. While successful examples of resource development bridging the inequality gap have historically been few and far between, instead fostering a slew of socialand environmental problems and perpetuating inequality, we are seeing more and more success stories. Resource development, if done right, can transform societies even the poorest economies.
 
This paper will suggest that through Indigenous participation in resource development, a new model based on true collaboration is born which can be a powerful solution to territorial inequality. This paper will look at new opportunities and models in resource development that can serve to empower communities and reduce inequality through best practice examples and case studies from the Canadian context and the potentials that exist elsewhere, particularly in Latin America. It will highlight factors that have been seen to exacerbate the problematique such as land rights, resettlement and the environment. Lastly, it will look at regions which have proactively developed and implemented regional development strategies around mining such as Northwest Territories (NWT), in areas of historically marginalized Indigenous groups, using mining to transform territorial inequality into a competitive edge.
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